Roads of Bible times were little more than paths, rough and crude by modern standards. When a king traveled, his servants would go ahead of him, removing stones, filling in low places, and straightening curves so the king’s journey would be more pleasant.
The vine was of great importance in the religion of Israel. It was used as a symbol of the religious life of Israel itself, and a carving of a bunch of grapes often adorned the front exterior of the synagogue. The symbolism was based upon passages such as Psalm 80 and Isaiah 5:1-5 where Israel is God’s vine. The importance of the vine is why the Pharisees took the point so angrily when Jesus told the story of the wicked tenants in the vineyard (Matthew 21:33-41, 45-46). As the fulfilment of all that Israel should be to God, Jesus was the true vine (John 15:5-7).
Lighting for houses was provided by the oil lamp. Originally this consisted of an open earthenware saucer containing olive oil. Part of the saucer was “pinched” in manufacture, so as to provide a place for a flaxen wick. Such lamps obviously had problems arising from spillage, and closed containers were therefore developed with two holes-one for wick and one to put oil in.
Most of these religions were polytheistic, which means that they acknowledged many gods and demons. Once admitted to the pantheon (a culture’s collection of deities), a god could not be eliminated from it.
This verse is part of Isaiah’s prophecy of doom against Egypt. God’s punishment would be so devastating that it would spoil the Egyptian fishing industry. Fish taken from the Nile River and it’s tributaries were a staple of this ancient nation’s diet. Continue reading FISHING, EGYPTIAN STYLE→
Jael is the Bible character who sparks one-liners about “splitting headaches.” She’s the woman who jokesters like to refer to as “as expert at helping men ‘get things through their thick skulls!” But we are getting ahead of ourselves. A bit of context in needed.
Following the Israelites’ crossing of the Jordan River, Israel’s campaign to conquer and settle the promised land got off to a spectacular start. But over time, for multiple reasons, the effort sputtered and lost stem. Taking over a country is trying, not to mention tiring.
To the Jews of New Testament times, sundown marked the end of an old day and the beginning of a new day. The twenty-four-hour period between each sundown was divided into twelve hours of night–beginning about 6:00 p.m.-and twelve hours of daylight-beginning with dawn at about 6:00 a.m. Continue reading THE JEWISH CLOCK→
These “wise men” were members of a priestly caste known as the Magi who practiced the art of astrology. They believed the sun, moon, and stars gave off periodic signs that foretold future events and the destiny of individuals and nations. They probably came from the territory of ancient Babylonia, since this nation had a prominent class of magicians and wizards who read the signs of the stars (Isa 47:13). Continue reading WORSHIPERS FORM AFAR→
Roman Catholic tradition maintains that Peter is buried beneath the magnificent structure in Rome which bears his name-Saint Peter’s Basilica. Although the New Testament does not report a visit of Peter to Rome, there is historical evidence that he spent at least part of the latter portion of his life there. There are also extra-biblical references (such as the Acts of Peter) and numerous references in the writings of second and third-century church scholars which confirm that Peter died in Rome. Eusebius gives A.D. 68 as the approximate date of Peter’s death. Continue reading MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE BIBLE (WHERE IS PETER BURIED?)→
One scholar recently uncovered controversial evidence suggesting that the ancient Egyptians produced written sheet music during the same centuries as the building of the mighty Sphinx, about 4500 years ago. Maureen M. Barwise claims to have deciphered musical hieroglyphs that date back as far as the fourth dynasty of the old kingdom, roughly 2600 B.C. Continue reading MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THE BIBLE (THE WOLD’S OLDEST SHEET MUSIC?)→